‘Felt like I won the lottery’: NE Queens residents get COVID-19 vaccine at Korean Community Services pop-up site in Bayside

Congresswoman Meng speaks at a press conference outside the KCS, turned pop-up vaccination site, in Bayside, Queens on Feb.11, 2021. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

Lawmakers and the northeast Queens community celebrated the opening of its first temporary pop-up vaccination site in Bayside on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Following the announcement that the Korean Community Services (KCS) building would operate as a temporary COVID vaccination site, elected officials and representatives from the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services and Healthfirst toured the facility as residents began receiving their first doses.

Cuomo’s office said that 500 Queens residents would get the opportunity to get inoculated at 203-05 32nd Ave. from Feb. 11 to 12. All slots for appointment were booked on the first day.

The process involved pharmacists preparing shots at stations before patients received the vaccines at one of three nurses stations. Patients then moved to a waiting area where they sat, socially distanced, and were observed by medical staff for adverse reactions.

QNS spoke with married couple Lorraine and Joe Bennett, who had signed up for vaccinations online and said the process went “very smoothly.”

“We had to wait a little bit, but that is understandable. They have to thaw the vaccine. You just have to be a little patient. I feel happy,” said Lorraine Bennett.

When they were leaving, Joe Bennett remarked that he “didn’t even feel the vaccine shot.”

Also getting his shot on Thursday was 84-year-old Chuen Tsang, accompanied by his daughter Erica who translated for him. The woman said that her father’s experience was positive and he even asked if the nurse stuck the needle in since he didn’t feel anything.

Erica learned about the KCS pop-up in email from Assemblyman Ed Braunstein’s office and booked an appointment for her father that Tuesday.

“I felt like I was lucky to get this appointment. It felt like I won the lottery,” Erica said.

All three residents have scheduled appointments for their three-week booster shot.

Congresswoman Grace Meng praised Cuomo for authorizing the pop-up site, the first one in northeast Queens. She said that residents should look out for additional appointments in the coming weeks.

Meng also warned of the rising incidents of racism against the Asian community.

“Before COVID-19 even hit us here in New York, we were already suffering from a different sort of virus. That of discrimination and racism. The rise of incidents against Asian-Americans continues to rise,” she said.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards echoed praises for the governor and said that while sites like these and the hub at Citi Field represent a good first start, the federal government needs to ramp up vaccines for the whole state.

“We are here to say, Queens residents, if you are eligible, take the vaccine now. Don’t wait until the supply totally gives up. If you are eligible, we urge you to get in line now,” Richards said.

Additional reporting by Gabriele Holtermann. 

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